Benefits of exercise

If exercise were a tablet - it would be one of the most cost-effective drugs ever invented. Exercise can reduce your risk of serious illnesses, including cancer, heart disease, diabetes and stroke by up to 50% and reduce your probability of dying earlier by up to 30%.

NHS research also shows physical activity can also boost self-esteem, mood, quality of sleep and energy levels as well as being effective in cutting stress.



It is medically proven that people who do regular exercise have up to a:



•    35% lower risk of coronary heart disease and stroke;


•    50% lower risk of type 2 diabetes;


•    50% lower risk of colon cancer;


•    20% lower risk of breast cancer;


•    30% lower risk of early death;


•    83% lower risk of osteoarthritis;


•    68% lower risk of hip fracture;


•    30% lower risk of falls (among older people);


•    30% lower risk of depression;


•    30% lower risk of dementia



What counts as exercise?



Adults should try to be active every day and do at least 150 minutes (2 ½ hours) of physical activity a week through a variety of activities.



Sometimes the simplest way is to build activity into your daily schedule, such as walking or cycling instead of using the car.  However, the more you do the better and taking part in sports or activities such as dancing will make you even healthier.



For any type of activity to be beneficial it needs to make you breathe faster, feel warmer and increase your heart rate.  One way to tell if you’re working hard enough is if you can still talk but can’t sing the words to a song.  This is called ‘moderate intensity activity’.



If you’re working even harder it is called ‘vigorous intensity activity’. There is evidence to show this is even better for your health than moderate activity.  You can tell you’re at this level because you’re breathing hard and fast and your heart rate is much higher. You won’t be able to say more than a few words without stopping for breath.



A modern day problem

Technology has made our lives easier – however that means many of us don’t do as much physical activity.  



To relax we watch TV, machines wash our clothes, we drive or take the bus to work and fewer people are doing manual work.  



Household chores, shopping and work are, in general, far less demanding for us as they were for previous generations.



Figures suggest many adults spend more than 7 hours a day sitting down, rising to 10 hours a day for people over 65.



The NHS describes inactivity as a ‘silent killer’ with evidence showing that sitting or lying down for long periods is bad for your health.  



They call this ‘sedentary behaviour’.



Common examples include watching TV, using a computer, using the car for short journeys and sitting down to read, talk or listening to music.  



Such behaviour is thought to increase your risk of many chronic diseases such as heart disease, stroke and diabetes as well as obesity.